The Gulf Coast History and Humanities Conference, held annually in Pensacola, Florida, was inspired by scholars and archivists who felt the need of an interdisciplinary organization devoted to the history and culture of the Gulf Coast region. The organizers designed the First Conference (1969) to summarize documentary and artifactual resources for the study of the area from New Orleans, Louisiana, to St. Marks, Florida, in the colonial era. Jack D. L. Holmes explored materials outside the United States and research opportunities for Spanish West Florida, and Robert Right Rea similarly examined British West Florida. Samuel Proctor discussed bibliographical resources in the United States for Gulf Coast studies. Lucius F. Ellsworth and Donald H. Bragaw urged the use of artifacts by historians in their research or classrooms. Water Rundell, Jr., spoke on building research collections.
The Second Conference (1970) explored the struggle for hegemony between Spain and her rivals along the Gulf Coast during the colonial period. John J. TePaske compared the Indian policies of France, Spain and England; J. Preston Moore described a 1768 uprising of French settlers in Louisiana; Hale Smith surveyed European artifacts; and Samuel Wilson, Jr. considered the region’s architecture. Alfred B. Thomas’s “overview” of Gulf Coast colonial history was offered as an antidote to the dominant “Anglo” approach to colonial American history.
The sponsors of this Conference want to stimulate the study of Spain and her rivals in the Southeast as did Herbert E. Bolton for Spain in the Southwest. Ultimately they plan to extend their interest from 1500 to the present and to the full circumference of the Gulf Coast from the Florida Keys to Yucatán. In making interested scholars aware of abundant if widely scattered source materials and heretofore neglected research opportunities in Gulf Coast studies they have made a promising beginning.